An alleged scholarship scam in Jharkhand, which came to light just ahead of assembly bypolls, has stirred up a political storm, with Chief Minister Hemant Soren pinning the blame on the erstwhile BJP government, and former welfare minister Louis Marandi refuting his charge.
Soren had said on Sunday that he will order an inquiry into the case, which was disclosed by a national daily through a series of reports that pointed out instances of fraud in distribution of pre-matric scholarships, sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs, for 2019-20.
He promised to get to the bottom of the matter and take action against anybody found guilty of fraud. Marandi, who is also the saffron party's candidate for Tuesday's Dumka assembly bypolls, welcomed the CM's decision, and said an inquiry would help clear the picture.
She is pitted against the CM's brother and JMM leader Basant Soren from the seat. Asserting that all welfare work was undertaken with "complete transparency" during her tenure, Marandi told PTI Bhasha on Monday, "The JMM government has repeatedly levelled allegations against the erstwhile Raghubas Das-led government and said that he would initiate investigations… So he should go ahead and do that. We have nothing to hide…" The chief minister, citing the report in the national daily, had said at a press meet on Sunday that eligible students have been deprived of their dues.
He also said that the rights of Dalit and tribal children have been infringed by the former BJP government. According to the newspaper, minority students in several districts of the state have been being duped of a centrally funded scholarship by a nexus of bank staff, middlemen, school and govt employees.
Meanwhile, BJP state president Deepak Prakash said Soren was trying to tarnish Marandi's image just before the polls, in gross violation of model code of conduct. "The chief minister is trying to influence the voters.
The BJP is ready for any inquiry, it is not afraid of baseless allegations," he said.